I can’t figure out which news on the U.S. economy was more ominous for the utilities industry. The choice is between May 15’s retail sales report and May 19's housing starts report, both for the period through this April.
April’s retail sales were down 21.6 percent as compared with April of last year. Including 89.3 percent down for clothing and clothing accessories stores, 66.5 percent down for furniture and home furnishing stores, 64.8 percent down for electronics and appliances stores, 48.9 percent for sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores, and 48.7 for food services and drinking places.
I guess that’s why demand for electricity has decreased by so much in most areas of the country.
April’s housing starts were down 29.7 percent overall as compared with April of last year, and down 24.8 percent for single-family homes. The northeast and west regions were especially hard hit. Three-fifths of single-family starts nationally are now in the south.
Starts of single-family homes in the south — typically houses with high air-conditioning usage — are a main driver of intermediate and long-term growth in the demand for electricity. But even this region was hit, with a 13.3 percent decrease in single-family starts year-over-year.